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Grobschnitt - Solar Music - Live CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.56 | 199 ratings

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5 stars A double live album that has become a milestone in space rock.

"Solar Music - Live" is the live performance of the Grobschnitt's incredible double album "Ballerman", at least it is the last album of that 1976 album. The band are renowned for their vivacious high theatrics and art rock pyrotechnics with fireworks, sparks, masks and costumes. This stage act fits in perfectly with the astonishing space rock of 'Solar Music'. There's no live album in the universe like this. The band are a zany bunch of geniuses consisting of the lead guitar prowess of Stefan Danielak (Wildschwein) and Gerd-Otto Kühn (Lupo), the keyboard wizardry of Volker Kahrs (Mist), the machine like rhythms of bassist Bernhard Uhlemann (Bär) and the manic percussion of Joachim Ehrig (Eroc). The sound they generate together is incredible, totally original in feel and ultimately satisfying, with huge time changes, dramatic shifts in mood, and a whimsical sense of humour.

The colossal space suite that turned Grobschnitt into prog legends is given a reimagining treatment with extra sections, more weirdness and extended soloing. One can even hear backstage noise and messing about in the silent parts. 'Solar Music' is the magnum opus that the band lived off in live performaces and it remains their quintessential triumph. It is a 55 minute space odyssey with high frequency synths sounding like "Fireball XL5"'s space effects at times. It is one long piece of music and yet broken into segments that blend seamlessly together. It begins with a great melodic guitar and pulsating rhythm, the same as heard on "Ballerman". The tune is so memorable that it always grabs me immediately and I am hooked. The lead guitar just takes off into the stratosphere. It just wraps itself around my cerebral cortex and transports me to Planet X.

Then the psychedelic vocals come in acapella and they sound spiteful and dangerous. The German accent is strong and there is definitely a sense of humour coming through. Grobschnitt have fun in this first section. The sig slows and speeds up at random it seems. The loud blasts of guitar and frenetic drumming are astounding. The spacey effects enter soon and are like Hawkwind, with very powerful sonic vibrations. The echoing flange guitars and galactic synth swirls are an everpresent force swirling and cascading with swooshes and with Alien sounds. The slowed down deep toned robotic mantra of "do you.. hear.. solar.. music?" comes in similar to "Ballerman": but it is more menacing and threatening, slowed to a deep rumble. It somehow reminds me of Kraftwerk's 'Musique Non Stop'.

A hypnotic rhythm locks in with motorik Krautrock rhythms over ethereal synthscapes. This is genuine space rock and it encompasses many moods, and as the piece progresses there is the sound of birds twittering, and a dog barks a few times. The synths begins to really take off like a space ship traveling through the solar system. A pounding buildup of powerful drums and bass begins to roar through the soundscape. It is released into glorious Hammond and a blistering lead break. The lead work of duel guitarists Wildschwein and Lupo is mesmirising. It feels like an improvised break jamming with the rhythms but they are so precise and vibrant they hit every note perfectly and it is captivating to be held under their spell. The tempo changes to a different faster feel, and some brilliant percussion accents are added. The reverb guitar tones are dynamic and very psychedelic with arpeggios and string bends. It really sounds like early Hawkwind.

Spacey chimes blend into the jamming session, with eerie star gazing soundscapes. Solar galactic screaming effects are overpowering. The organic music floats on a cluster of stars and is breath taking, shifting from darkness to light with effervescent mellotron and fiery lead guitar. The manic laughter is rather disconcerting and then we hear "do you heeeeeeeeaaaar solar music? do you heeeeeeeeaaaar solar music?" The synths become penetrating with a synergy of laser effects, and intergalactic resonances with sunburst power. It really is spaced up to the stratosphere. There is an amazing extended wah-wah solo by Lupo. The band are virtuoso and operate within a vacuum of spacey textures jamming off one groove and then they know how to release the tension so appropriately, breaking from hypnotic rhythms of bass and drums to provide uplifting soaring instrumental solos. The extended soloing is hypnotising and it is finally given over to a keyboard solo with Mist having a chance to shine. The tension is released with a bit of hysterical banter "Would you like to sit on your bum on the surface of the sun?" and then there is a roar of volcanic erupting sound that explodes for a moment and then another solo of guitar and keyboards draws thing to a peaceful resolution. The peaceful synth and guitar melody at the end is an excellent way to end after all the chaos and spaciness previously. The keyboard sounds way better that the sound on "Ballerman", which incidentally sounded like a midi file or an 8bit soundtrack to a Nintendo cartridge game. The crowd roar at the end and cry out that they want more of Grobschnitt and who can blame them?

This is an extraordinary concert performance, perhaps one of the alltime greatest live albums along with Deep Purple's "Made In Japan", Hawkwind's "Space Ritual", ELP's "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends", Yes' "Yesssongs" and some of Magma's and King Crimson's live albums. The best parts of the album include 'Solar Music I', 'Food Sicore', 'Mühlheim Special' and 'Solar Music III' that are all mandatory for space rock cadets. It is a milestone in space rock and has a drawing power unlike anything I have heard. Yeah, I definitely do hear Solar Music!

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |


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